Last Tuesday, my divorce became final.
On Saturday (4 days later), my son was accepted to West Point.
Talk about drama in one week!
Although these two events may seem at opposite ends of the spectrum, I like to think of them as a continuation. New beginnings leading to renewed hope.
Tuesday marked the end of a 23 year marriage (although in reality it ended years ago). Nevertheless, its finality closed the book on my marriage and thrust me into a new chapter in my life.
I approach this new phase with excitement, hope, uncertainty, and melancholy. I fondly recall memories with the bittersweet taste of gratitude for their existence, and yet, disappointment at their endings. I look at photos and smile. Then cry. Then smile again. The pictures are reminiscent of times past.
And yet, love never ends; it just transcends into different perspectives.
I’m hopeful for the future. I couldn’t have done this if I wasn’t. I believe I’ve been gently led in this direction, where growth and joy will flourish and manifest in ways untapped before. It will require inner strength and perseverance.
I know my faith will guide me. I believe in the Holy Spirit and its power.
Although many people are uncomfortable talking about the Holy Spirit (and may consider it a bit suspect), the Holy Spirit has been a part of the Christian faith for centuries.
In the Old Testament, there are numerous times when we are told that the Holy Spirit was specifically made available to certain people. Moses was guided by the Holy Spirit. Gideon, Joshua, Saul, David, Isaiah, Zechariah, and many others are said to have had the Spirit of the Lord upon them.
In the New Testament, the early Christians told the story of Jesus and referenced the Holy Spirit in many important events. The birth of Jesus is due in part to the Holy Spirit. At Jesus baptism, the Holy Spirit descends on him. Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit and later, returned to Galilee “in the power of the spirit” to begin his ministry.
Listening to and discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit can come all at once or over time. When you keep coming back to a certain thought; when doors open that were once closed; or when options become possibilities, you know the Holy Spirit is busy at work in your life. This happens through earnest prayer. Praying to our Lord and Savior will help to discern the voice of the Spirit. Even just inquiring about the Holy Spirit in your life is a first step.
If you’ve never heard God speak to you through the Holy Spirit, don’t worry. I believe you’ll begin to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit as your prayer life becomes more active and powerful. It’s easier to look back on your life and see the fruits of the Holy Spirit afterwards, rather than day in and day out. Just remember, the Holy Spirit will never endorse anything that separates you from God.
Even if you don’t feel a “gentle nudge,” the Holy Spirit is still busy at work in your life.
My son applied to West Point during his senior year of high school. Although he was a stellar student, participated in many extracurricular activities, and had glowing recommendations and a congressional nomination, he didn’t make the cut. His dream of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point was over.
He was crushed.
He didn’t give up, however, but instead enrolled at another university. He continued to pursue activities and academics with dedication and hard work. He became a member of the elite Corps of Cadets, and embraced his college experience with enthusiasm. During the fall, he applied again to West Point.
When the news came of his acceptance, we were all thrilled. Thrilled that through faith and hard work, my son learned not to give up on his dreams. He learned to redirect, to venture out into uncharted territory, and to find new avenues to discover.
As I continue on my journey, I hope to be as brave as my son. Major life changes tend to make us feel vulnerable, fragile, and even raw. We may not feel anything for a while, let alone the Holy Spirit. Take comfort in God. Know that the Holy Spirit is at work bringing relief, joy and peace to our lives.
Christ promised to his disciples before leaving them that he would pray to God and ask for another Comforter (meaning the Spirit) who would love and guide them forever, just as he did with his disciples.
I believe him.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever. John 14:16